From the classroom to the Ironman

Jana Richtrova.

For Jana Richtrova ’03, MBA ’05, life after the School of Management has been a team effort in the office and a personal pursuit of dreams outside of it.

After graduating with her MBA, Richtrova worked at New Era Cap Co. in Buffalo as a product line manager. From there, she moved to Reebok where she was the NHL product line manager, but also worked with other leagues, including the NFL, NBA and NCAA.

“I thought that was it,” says Richtrova. “I had every intention to stay and advance through the company and explore opportunities from within but, when the job offer from Bauer came up, it was too good to refuse.”

Today she serves as category manager of lifestyle apparel and headwear at Bauer Performance Sports Ltd., a leading developer and manufacturer of ice hockey, roller hockey and lacrosse equipment, as well as related apparel.

At Bauer, Richtrova routinely uses the group teamwork skills she honed at the School of Management.

“I have a team of coworkers that I work with and rely on to put together the best apparel product line each season,” says Richtrova. “But without teamwork and an understanding of everyone’s expertise and different personalities, it would never come together.

“Dealing with different people, cultures and personalities is very challenging, but important in the overall success of any project we are working on. Being introduced to that during the MBA program was definitely huge.”

Richtrova has always had a passion for sports. She was a member of the women’s basketball team at UB and ventured into triathlons about three years ago because she enjoyed running, her spinning classes at the gym and staying active.

“Then I caught the competitive bug, and the rest is history,” she says.

After qualifying in her first attempt, Richtrova realized her ultimate goal of competing in the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, in October 2012. The Ironman consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run, which Richtrova completed, finishing fifteenth in her age group.

But she’s not stopping there—she will compete in the Ironman Cozumel this December to qualify for another attempt at the Kona Ironman in 2014. She’s working to finish on the podium this time around.

Her advice to current students and recent graduates? Follow your dreams and be a lifelong learner.

“You know when you are asked to answer questions like, ‘Where do you see yourself in five or 10 years?’ Follow through on those goals,” she says. “Have a vision and work hard to get to where you want to be. Hard work pays off.

“Continue to learn along the way from everyone you work with, because real-life experience is priceless. There will be sacrifices you will have to make along the way, but it’s all worth it in the end. Don’t ever stop dreaming or believing—and continue to evolve.”

Written by Kevin Manne